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Vera is a British detective television series based on the works of crime author Ann Cleeves.

The central character is Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope of the Northumberland & City police, played by Brenda Blethyn. She is obsessive about her work and driven by her own demons. If she's lonely she doesn't show it and faces the world with caustic wit, guile and courage. She plods along in a constantly disheveled state, but has a calculating mind, and despite her irascible personality, she cares deeply about her work and comrades. In many respects, she can be likened to a female Columbo.

Her long-suffering right-hand man is Detective Sergeant (DS) Joe Ashworth from series 1-4. Starting in series 5, DS Aiden Healy took over Ashworth's spot.

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Vera contains examples of:

  • Absence of Evidence: In "Tuesday's Child", Vera realises that a story that the Victim of the Week had left of his own accord is false when she searches the victim's holdall and discovers that he hadn't packed his insulin. As she puts it, why would he leave behind the one thing he depended on for survival?
  • Accidental Murder: The Victim of the Week in "The Deer Hunters" is shot when he attempts to wrestle a rifle away from a friend who was attempting to illegally shoot a stag.
  • Ate His Gun: The Victim of the Week in "Sandancers" is murdered in such a way as to make it look like he ate his gun. Later, another soldier actually commits suicide this way which muddies the waters of the investigation.
  • Autopsy Snack Time: In "Telling Tales", The Coroner Billy swallows antibiotics while he is in the autopsy room with a corpse on the slab.
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  • Banging for Help: In "A Certain Samaritan", the Victim of the Week is thrown off an overpass and lands on top of a truck passing underneath. He breaks his back in the fall and raps on the top of the truck in an attempt to attract attention. The truck driver hears the banging but ignores it and the victim dies.
  • Batter Up!: In "Darkwater", a violent suspect uses a baseball bat to smash up the car of the Victim of the Week's father. He then uses it to threaten the father, telling him that if he is not gone in 24 hours, he is coming back for him.
  • Battle in the Rain: In "On Harbour Street", suspect Malcolm Kenrich knocks out Kenny, and grabs another suspect (Ryan Darrow) whom he believes is guilty, and drags him out into the middle of a marsh to kill him. By the time Vera arrives to break it up, it is pouring with rain and Malcolm is half strangling, half drowning Ryan.
  • The Beard: In "Broken Promise", the Victim of the Week is secretly in a relationship with a Jerk Jock. The victim's best friend is the jock's girlfriend, and is secretly being used as a beard to hide the relationship.
  • The Big Board: Vera's first action on returning to the squad room after viewing the Victim of the Week is to set up a board with a photo of the victim, photos of suspects, timelines and whatever clues they have. It is added to over the course of the investigation as new facts are discovered.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Lots, but special mention has to go to the families from "Death of a Family Man," "Protected," and "Home."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Generally the best you can hope for. Vera doesn't really do "closure": yes, the law will be upheld and the murderer will be caught, but there won't be much satisfaction in it. Often, the Sympathetic Murderer, Enfant Terrible, Broken Pedestal, Ill Girl or Mistaken Identity tropes will come into play to ensure that Vera is left with a bitter taste in her mouth, despite successfully solving the case.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: In "Silent Voices", the Victim of the Week is murdered while swimming in a stream. There is a shot of blood from her head wound flowing into the water and being diluted.
  • Book-Ends: "Dark Road" begins and ends with Vera announcing that she is going to walk because she needs to clear her head.
  • Car Cushion: In "Shadows in the Sky", the Victim of the Week is pushed off the top of a multi-storey carpark and lands on a car parked on the ground; seemingly the only car in an otherwise deserted row.
  • Car Fu: In "Black Ice", the Victim of the Week is murdered when the killer uses a van to ram her car from behind and force it off the road.
  • Cat Scare: In "The Moth Catcher", Hachim is searching a darkened garage when he is suddenly startled by a dog that had been sitting silently in one corner till then. This amuses Aiden greatly, especially when the dog is brought out still shaking.
    Aiden: "I think he was more scare of you. Poor thing!"
  • Cool Car: Vera's vintage Land Rover.
  • The Coroner: The irreverent Dr. Billy Cartwright in seasons 1 to 3, who had numerous quirks (such as hiding car magazines in the ceiling of his office) and was probably only a pathologist because no living patient could tolerate him. He was replaced in seasons 3-8 by Dr. Marcus Summer, who was younger but more serious. Series 9 gave us Dr. Malcolm Donahue, who was even more abrasive than Billy.
  • Corruption of a Minor: The drug gang in "Cuckoo," were using teenagers to run drugs into the coastal towns. Vera was less than impressed, and threatened to charge the gang leader with exploitation of a child, and human trafficking.
  • Cut-and-Paste Suburb: Vera gets lost while trying to navigate her way through a mazelike suburb of identical houses to a crime scene at the start of "Home".
  • Cut Himself Shaving: In "On Harbour Street", Vera asks a prostitute how she got her black eye. She replies that she "banged her head".
  • Dating Service Disaster: In "Darkwater", Vera discovers that the Victim of the Week has been using to a local message board to catfish his bullies by thinking they were communicating with a Hot Teacher. This suddenly changes the nature of the case, as Vera realises he was not only the victim, but also a perpetrator.
  • Death by Falling Over: The Victim of the Week in "Darkwater" was killed during a violent argument when he was shoved off the bank of a lake; falling on rocks and smashing his skull and breaking his neck.
  • Detective Mole: In "Old Wounds", Vera investigates a cold case when skeletal remains are found in the woods. The murderer turns out to have been the supervising officer on the original missing person case, who encouraged the investigating officer to do a slipshod job and write the case off as a runaway.
  • Disposing of a Body: In Season 8's "Blood and Bone", a body is found in the incinerator of an abattoir.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • The murderer in "Old Wounds."
    • In "The Seagull", John Brace. It also appears that Vera's dad was as well, but it turns out he suspected wrongdoing but didn't have enough evidence - and took hush money to keep Vera safe from any negative consequences.
  • Domestic Abuse: Part of the motive in "Dark Road": the victim was a mother helping her daughter escape an abusive husband, only to be killed when the husband found out what was going on.
  • Driven to Suicide: In "The Moth Catcher", one suspect hangs herself in the barn when it becomes obvious that she is going to be exposed as a hit-and-run driver. Which solves one of the deaths Vera is investigating, but not the other.
  • Empathic Environment: Northumberland (North-East England) is shot to look as moody and grey as possible, mirroring the somewhat bleak, pessimistic feel of the show. The sky is almost permanently overcast.
  • Disability Alibi: In "Tuesday's Child", Vera works out that one suspect who was involved in the disposal of a body could not have been acting alone because he had a broken arm at the time (the result of the same accident that killed the victim):
    "Unless you're the world's greatest one-armed gravedigger!"
  • False Confession: A non-fatal version occurs in "Home," when the son of the neighbour of the Victim of the Week confesses to sending malicious emails, to protect his mother, who was the actual sender of them.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: In "Protected", this kind of relationship lies at the bottom of the murder. The Victim of the Week was actually the son of his elder 'sister'; having been born when she was 15. Although estranged from her family, and married with a family of her own, she remained close to her son. She finally tells him the truth, which sets in motion the chain of events that results in his murder.
  • Fiery Coverup: In "The Sea Glass", one suspect torches the boat that was used to dispose of the Body of the Week. They do not do a very thorough job and Vera and her crew find traces of blood on the prow.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: In "Telling Tales", a householder gets hospitalized when an intruder who has broken in to retrieve some some incriminating evidence smashes him over the head with a bottle.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Vera is a British version.
  • Heroic Blue Screen of Death: In "Dark Road", Vera goes into this state after Bethany is shot dead by the suspect of the week, ending the episode by just aimlessly walking away from Aiden, saying she needs to clear her head.
  • Hidden Depths: In "Dark Angel", Kenny unexpectedly reveals that he speaks Latin.
  • Human Traffickers: While investigating a murder in "The Sea Glass", Vera discovers that the Victim of the Week was involved with a human trafficking ring. The skipper of trawler would smuggle in illegal immigrants and drop them on a remote part of the coast, where the victim would pick them up in a van and deliver them to various locations. While Vera shuts the operation done, it turns out only to tangentially connected to why the man was murdered.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: A slight variation in "Old Wounds", as the police already know the man they are arresting is guilty of murder, but his words reveal other information he should not have known. A man murders the man he believed had murdered his daughter (although he was actually innocent). When Vera arrests him, the father says that he had only done to the victim what he had done to his daughter: sneaking up on him and killing him by surprise. Vera notes that the daughter's manner of death had not been made public, meaning that someone with access to the investigation has been leaking information.
    • Also shows up in "Dark Road": the suspect asks if a spot he and Bethany are driving past was where the victim's shoes were found, despite having never been told the victim was found without them.
    • Also in "Little Lazarus", when the judge Vera is questioning says "he" to refer to the victim's child...who Vera hadn't mentioned was a son.
  • Insurance Fraud: In "The Sea Glass", an old case of arson turns out to have been a case of insurance fraud. This, in turn, is connected to the current murder.
  • Invented Individual: In "Protected", a property management firm is running a scam where they are renting out derelict flats to nonexistent tenants and charging the council for the rent.
  • Is That What They're Calling It Now?: In "The Blanket Mire", Vera discovers that one of her suspects has an alibi:
    "It turns out he's been carrying on with the landlady. He says they went for a walk. First time I've heard it called that."
    • Kenny asking if a mantle is an euphemism for sex. It wasn't.
  • Jammed Seatbelts: In "Silent Voices", Joe has to dive into a reservoir to save a woman Trapped in a Sinking Car. It takes several attempts for the two of them to get the seatbelt open.
  • Just Keep Driving: A Hit and Run happens in "Shadows in the Sky". During a Car Chase a suicidal driver cuts in front of a truck. The truck honks its horn before clipping the car and knocking it off the road, but does not stop afterwards.
  • Lawman Baton: In "Old Wounds", Vera's team investigates a cold case when a girl's remains are found in the woods twenty years after she disappeared. The murderer was a police officer policing the picket lines during the miners' strike, who killed her by cracking her skull with his baton.
  • Lead Police Detective: DCI Vera Stanhope is this for the Northumberland police force.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: Nine series in, the capable and dependable Kenny Lockhart is still only a Detective Constable.
    • Averted in the case of Mark, who we first meet as a young naïve PC in "Little Lazarus." He then pops periodically for various seasons until series 7, when he is promoted to Detective Constable and becomes an official member of the team (and cast).
  • Loan Shark: While investigating a murder in "Black Ice", Vera and her team uncover a loan shark operation operating under the cover of a taxi firm. Many of the 'drivers' hanging the base are actually the loan shark's enforcers, known as 'dogs' by his clients. While the Victim of the Week was threatening to blow the whistle on his operation, the loan shark turns out not to be responsible for her murder, but still gets shut down.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: In "The Seagull", Vera and her assistant go to Scotland to interrogate someone instead of having the local police do it.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: In "Darkwater", the body of the Victim of the Week is dumped into a lake in an attempt to make it look like an accidental drowning.
  • Man on Fire: In "Young Gods", the Victim of the Week is set on fire when an oil lamp is thrown at him hard enough to chip bone: an act that is witnessed by a group of sixth form students on a retreat.
  • The Marvelous Deer: In "The Deer Hunters", the hunting lodge has a legend of a magnificent stag called The Emperor Hadrian that is supposed to wander the preserve and hunters are encouraged to try and find it. The stag is accidentally shot by a poacher in an event that results in the death of the Victim of the Week. Vera discovers the stag's body, but tells no one.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: In "Old Wounds", the father of the Victim of the Week complains bitterly that no one seriously investigated when his daughter disappeared - instead preferring to believe she had just run away - because she was a miner's child at the time of the miners' strike, and mixed race. Even when her body is found, he does not believe the police will put any effort into finding her killer.
  • Mistaken for Cheating:
    • In "Shadows in the Sky", the Victim of the Week had been having clandestine meetings with a young woman. His son had discovered this and assumed his father was having an affair. The police consider this as a possible motive as the wife or the son might have murdered him for his infidelity. However, the young woman was actually his daughter from a one-night stand decades before.
    • In "Protected", a husband suspects his wife is having an affair when he discovers his wife has a pay-as-you-go mobile phone, and has been lying about working late at the dog shelter. He eventually steals the phone and uses it to lure the younger man she has been meeting into an ambush, where he murders him. He later discovers that the man was not his wife's lover, but her son, who had been raised as her brother following a Family Relationship Switcheroo.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Used as a murder weapon in "The Ghost Position" where the killer throws three petrol bombs into a house.
  • Murder by Mistake:
    • The first Victim of the Week in "Castles In The Air".
    • Subverted in "Old Wounds." The father of the Victim of the Week kills the man he believes is guilty of his daughter's murder, and describes to Vera how he had only done to him what he believed he had done to his daughter. What makes it this trope is the fact that the poor guy wasn't the murderer at all. The information that the father gives Vera while confessing does however help her catch the real killer.
    • In "Black Ice", the killer fatally rams a car off the road; not realising that his intended victim was not the one driving.
  • Mystery of the Week
  • Never One Murder: Zig-zagged. Sometimes there is only one murder an episode. Other times there are several.
  • Never Suicide: Played straight and later averted in "Sandancers". The first death is a murder made to look like a suicide. Vera thinks it looks too much like a suicide to actually be a suicide. When a second near-identical death occurs, Vera assumes it is the work of the same killer. This sends the investigation down a blind alley till she realises that the second death actually was suicide.
  • No Medication for Me: In "The Moth Catcher", the Victim of the Week is bipolar. Vera and her team discover that she has been off her meds for some time when Marcus discovers no trace of the medication in her system during the autopsy.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: An underplayed (and serious) version in "Natural Selection". The killer props the body of the Victim of the Week up in a seat in the observation hut, and sends a text message from her phone, so witnesses are convinced they saw her alive when they left the island.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: DCI Vera Stanhope is usually paired with a much younger detective sergeant; originally Joe Ashworth and later Aiden Healy.
  • Old School Building: In "Broken Promise", Vera is called to the University of Northumberland when Jamie Marshall, a young, promising journalism student, plummets to his death from the top of a disused science building. The investigation keeps returning to the supposedly unsafe building, and Vera eventually realises that the building itself may be at the centre of why he died.
  • One-Word Title
  • Oop North: Set in Northumberland, and many of the cast sport strong Northern accents.
  • Over Took The Series: The first couple of series were based on the books by Ann Cleeves. After that they are mostly original stories, though new books continue to be adapted as they appear.
  • Phoney Call: In "Dark Road", Vera phones Bethany to warn her about a suspect she is with. Standing close to to the suspect, Bethany starts giving innocuous sounding replies about the weather and other trivialities.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Pursued Protagonist: "Little Lazarus" opens with a young boy fleeing cross-country from the murderer that just killed his mother.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • DS Joe Ashworth
    • DC Holly Lawson
    • DC Shepherd
    • DC Hachim Cherradi
    • Dr Billy Cartwright
    • Dr Marcus Summer
  • Retirony: The Victim of the Week in "Blood and Bone" is a police officer who is found dead on the day he was supposed to retire.
  • Revisiting the Cold Case: "Telling Tales" opens with a convicted murderer who is ten years into a life sentence committing suicide. The publicity brings to light an alibi that had been ignored by the original investigators which proved her innocence. Vera and her team have to re-investigate the original murder.
  • Roguish Poacher: The Victim of the Week in "The Deer Hunters" is suspected of being this. The truth is more complicated, but he certainly wasn't an Evil Poacher.
  • Runaway Groom: In "Muddy Waters", the Victim of the Week called off his wedding a couple of days before the ceremony and then disappeared.
  • Running Away to Cry: In "Telling Tales", Holly runs into the bathroom to cry after receiving a bollocking from Vera.
  • Secret Other Family: The Victim of the Week in "Death of a Family Man" is revealed to be living this kind of double-life.
    • There's a variation of this on "Home." The Victim of the Week tells her husband, children, and everyone else she knows that she is an orphan with no other family, and grew up in a care home. Once Vera and the team start to investigate her death, however, it turns out that her father and brother are very much alive, and she had walked out on them years ago, disowning them in the process.
    • Another variation happens in "Broken Promise." The Victim of the Week actually invents a whole family that don't exist, and even changes his name by deed poll in an attempt to distance himself from his own father who had killed another child in a hit-and-run while the Victim of the Week was in the car with him when he was younger.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Happens to Joe in "Silent Voices" when he dives into a reservoir fully-clothed to save a woman Trapped in a Sinking Car. His shirt is noticeably clingy and see-through when he emerges.
  • Sibling Murder:
    • The killer in "Death of a Family Man," who killed his brother after an massive argument.
    • The killer in "Prodigal Son," who murdered her own brother, who was blackmailing both her and her fiancée
    • The killer in "Dark Angel," who killed his half-brother after a violent argument about another crime they were both involved in.
    • The killer in ""Cuckoo," who killed his own brother due to divided loyalties with the drug gang he was in
  • Shovel Strike: The Victim of the Week in "Telling Tales" is done in by a blow to the head with a shovel.
  • Skinny Dipping: The Victim of the Week in "Changing Tides" was skinny dipping at a stag party before she was murdered.
  • Staircase Tumble: The murderer shoves Joe down a flight of stairs when he discovers the prisoner in the cellar in "The Crow Trap".
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: In "Dark Road", Vera, grieving over Bethany's death and utterly furious with the suspect's Affably Evil act and denials, stands up and outright yells at him.
    Don't even TRY to act like this is tit-for-tat! You shot an unarmed woman in the back! We know the kind of man you are!
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Quite a few...at least from the point of view of the audience and several members of Vera's team. Vera herself, however, does not hold with this trope and gives no quarter to murderers with understandable motives — they killed someone, and that's an automatic Moral Event Horizon for Vera. Best seen in "Old Wounds", where she delivers a particularly vicious parting shot to a murderer who had lost his daughter and subsequently killed the person he thought was responsible, after he thanks her for letting him say goodbye to his daughter with some dignity: "You know where you can stick your thank-you."
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: At the end of "Darkwater", Vera has to do this with the killer, who is planning to throw themselves off an escarpment over guilt for their actions. Vera succeeds, but the killer now finds they are frozen with fear and Vera has to physically drag them back from the edge.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: A seemingly reciprocal (although short-lived) teacher/student features in "Muddy Waters". Years later, the student discovered that the teacher's child was actually his son and tried to connect with the boy. Although Vera and her team investigate this angle, it ultimately turned out to have nothing to do with his murder.
  • Time-Delayed Death: In "On Harbour Street", a woman is stabbed on a train station platform with a thin, sharp blade. Subcutaneous fat seals the wound, and the woman boards the train without noticing. She dies on the train from internal bleeding, and the police are left with the mystery of a woman who was seemingly stabbed in the back while seated with her back to the carriage wall.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: In "Home", the brother-in-law of the Victim of the Week is deep in debt to a local gang boss who is currently in prison. His brother, the victim's husband, is a prison officer who is offered the chance to clear the debt by acting as a mule and smuggling contraband into the prison.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: In "Silent Voices", the murderer attempts to dispose of his final victim by placing her in a car and rolling it off a cliff into a reservoir. Joe has to dive in to save her.
  • Two-Faced: In "Little Lazarus", Vera arrests a psycho who has been terrifying a woman and her son for years. Half of his face is covered in horrific burn scars, leading to the boy's nickname for him of 'the Shiny Man'. However, he turns out not to be the murderer.
  • Uriah Gambit: The Victim of the Week in "Sandancers" is revealed to have pulled this in Afghanistan. Learning one of his subordinates was having an affair with his wife, he sent the soldier into a supposedly cleared building to pronounce the all-clear, knowing that there was still an IED inside. The bomb went off, killing the soldier.
  • Vehicle-Roof Body Disposal: The accidental version happens in "A Certain Samaritan". After being stabbed, the Victim of the Week staggers against the railing of the overpass. The killer pushes him over and he lands on top of a passing long-distance lorry, where he breaks his spine. The lorry carries him all the way across the country (from Newcastle to Portsmouth).
  • Verbal Tic: Vera has the habit of addressing everyone as 'pet' or 'love'.
  • Victim of the Week
  • Window Pain: In "Broken Promise", the father of the Victim of the Week gets a rock thrown through his window with a note tied to it that reads "YOUR BOY'S DEAD HA HA".


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